In March of 2022, it was finally time to put all of my training to the test. My eight weeks of learning about how to operate a business and build a product were over, and now Heidi and I were prepared to pitch the Home and Travel (HAT) Dog Crate at the MU Entrepreneur Quest Competition.
In the months since I pitched the product for the first time, I made a lot of adjustments and improvements based on research and the information I learned in the entrepreneurship course. There were important business questions I was finally able to answer and decisions I made after many hours of learning. For example, I had finally decided that the product would be completely manufactured in the United States.
I wasn’t the only one working hard to prepare for the competition. Heidi also underwent some pretty intense dog training to ensure she played her part well on stage. (Frozen peanut butter treats were also very helpful in motivating her to keep quiet while I spoke for 8 minutes about our product).
In end, Heidi and I took home first place and $15,000 for our venture. I was ecstatic, and so was she. This felt like a major step for Murray Kennel Co. and I had a renewed sense of purpose knowing that other people saw the value of the product.
The prize of $15,000 allowed us to explore the patent and start working on a larger model. Until now, we had demonstrated how the crate worked on a prototype that was smaller than the final product. Now, we could move forward with a size that people could actually envision their medium-sized dogs inside.
Most importantly, We were finally ready to get the ball rolling with pre-orders of the HAT dog crate!